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3D printer test: these are the best 3D printers


Complex creations made of plastic

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Anycubic I3 Mega 3D-Drucker im Review

3D printers have become established and their possible uses are far from exhausted. Service providers offer professional 3D printing to order, but the devices have also become affordable for domestic users. If you want the best quality at home, you still pay a hefty price: our test winner is the Ultimaker S5 and the 3D printer based on FDM costs over 6. 000 Euro. You get our price tip for a fraction: The still good Anycubic I3 Mega is for around 300 euros. Top devices are also in the 1st 000 – Euro area available. But there are differences in the printing technology – you can find out all the important ones here.

3D printer tested in our test center, and the results last in January 2020 updated.

Although 3D printing only became mass-produced a few years ago, the devices have been around since the late 1980s. Since then, the technology has been continuously refined and manufacturing costs have been reduced, so that 3D printers can now also be found in the semi-professional and hobby sectors. There are various printing techniques, but there are two main methods used in home user devices: Stereolithography (SLA) delivers very precise printing results with synthetic resin. The plastic printing technology Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is more common. This is cheaper and more user-friendly, which is why most of the devices we tested are FDM printers.

Read this in our article: The top recommendations from our 3D printer leaderboard we present you first in a table and then in detail. We give you a price estimate and explain our test procedure. Then we explain how 3D printing works and what different types there are. For the selection of the suitable 3D printer, we also give you the relevant criteria and finally answer open questions on the topic.

This is the best 3D printer in the test

The best 3D printers

test winner Price Tip Best SLA printer Best seller

Product

U ltimaker S5

Anycubic I3 Mega

Formlabs Form 3

Original Prusa i3 MK3S

https://toplists-img.chip.de/9Pqrx4fUjohLL1mIV1TaBYHPQa4=/fit-in/100x100/filters:fill(fff)/813295.jpg https://toplists-img.chip.de/6DXIOzgg4YLZxLshjf6j-QCDMQs=/fit-in/100x100/filters:fill(fff)/799584.jpg https://toplists-img.chip.de/5hOruqhUYshY18jdEnT_80pmbIM=/fit-in/100x100/filters:fill(fff)/882118.jpg https://toplists-img.chip.de/1CZoLzo-c_cqfr3EfTBkjp5j40o=/fit-in/100x100/filters:fill(fff)/872727.jpg

Price

around 6. 500 Euro

round 240 Euro

around 3. 900 Euro

around 1. 000 Euro

Overall grade

very good ( 1.3)

good (1, 9)

good (1.6)

very good (1.4)

Print quality

very good (1, 2)

very good (1.4 )

very good (1.0)

very good (1,2)

Printing technology

FDM / FFF

FDM / FFF

SLA

FDM / FFF

Print volume

23, 8 liters

9.0 liters

3.9 liters

11, 0 liter

Most popular shop

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Test winner: Ultimaker S5

  • Source: Ultimaker

    Ultimaker S5

    Overall grade: very good (1.3) The Ultimaker S5 is a semi-professional 3D printer with high accuracy and excellent features.

Benefits
Excellent print quality
Practical dual extruder
Very large pressure range
Disadvantage
High purchase price
Long warm-up time
Expensive Ultimaker printing material

In the home user area is the 3D printer Ultimaker S5 the ultimate. But this is reflected in the price, the test winner is very expensive. The print quality is excellent, the FDM printer shows hardly any deviations from the specifications. He produces all four test objects without visible defects, even complex structures with fine bars and perforations look flawless. Higher accuracy is only possible with SLA printing. But the Ultimaker offers a very lush printing area. Objects can 33 times 24 times 30 centimeters, so it can be up to 23, process 8 liters of plastic – most 3D printers in Test offer less than half. The Ultimaker also has two extruders, so it can print in two colors. The 3D printer has a long warm-up time and also prints quite slowly, but this increases the print quality.

The Ultimaker S5 gets the highest rating in terms of features. In addition to the USB connection to the PC, you have WLAN and a network cable connection available. You can also start printing without a PC. Only a reader for SD cards is missing. 11 Printing materials can be used, but you pay twice as much for the Ultimaker own brand as for the filaments of other manufacturers. The printer recognizes the print material automatically and you can follow the progress remotely via a camera in the interior of the print environment. The touch display enables easy control of the device, the print bed can be calibrated automatically. The further development of the Cura slicer software used is open source.

The test winner is also at the top in terms of price: For the Ultimaker S5 you pay around 6. 500 Euro. It is worth using the 3D printer more intensively, otherwise printing is an expensive hobby.

3D-Drucker Ultimaker S5 Dual Extruder im Review

Price tip: Anycubic I3 Mega

  • Source: Anycubic

    Anycubic I3 Mega

    Overall grade: good (1.9) The Anycubic I3 Mega is an extremely inexpensive 3D printer with great print quality – equipment and ergonomics are limited.

Benefits
Very good print quality
Practical accessories
Strong price-performance ratio
Disadvantage
No WLAN or LAN interfaces
No automatic table calibration
Poor energy efficiency

The price-performance winner Anycubic I3 Mega costs a twentieth of the price of our test winner. This shows the wide range you are dealing with in 3D printers. The Anycubic is not lacking in print quality, because it is very good. The FDM device prints our test objects with minimal deviations and even fine structures work well. The pressure range of the open and compact device is quite small: the dimensions are 21 times 20 times 20 centimeters, the maximum print volume is 9 liters. The Anycubic is a good solution for smaller and simpler print objects, especially since the usable material is limited: In addition to PLA and ABS, you can only use the impact-resistant polystyrene HIPS and wood fiber PLA.

The print quality of the Anycubic I3 Mega was not spared, but the equipment and ergonomics. You transfer data via USB cable or from the SD card, the printer does not have network connectivity. The inexpensive model does not have a dual extruder either, but a replacement print head is included in the accessories. Operation via touch display is possible. However, an automatic printing table calibration is missing, you have to do this manually. Anycubic uses the slicer software Cura. The manufacturer does not sell its own filament, so you can choose freely with the PLA or ABS types. Overall, we find the processing of the device to be satisfactory and for its size, the 3D printer is quite power-hungry, comparable to a dual extruder device.

The starter device is suitable Anycubic I3 Mega well, the price-performance winner only costs around 240 Euro. This is great for the print quality, but you have certain restrictions.

Anycubic I3 Mega 3D-Drucker im Review

Best SLA printer: Formlabs Form 3

  • Source: Formlabs

    Formlabs Form 3

    Overall grade: good (1.6) The 3D printer Formlabs Form 3 shows the best print quality in the test thanks to SLA technology, but is a device for advanced users.

Benefits
Best print quality in the test
Good ergonomics
Large selection of printing materials
Disadvantage
Proprietary slicer software
Resin printing material generally expensive
High purchase price

The 3D printer Formlabs Form 3 is in our test the device with the best print quality, here there is a smooth 1.0 in the rating and top marks for the printed test objects. The SLA printing process does a great job and, above all, makes fine structures work extremely well. You have a bit more effort than with FDM printers, especially since you have to laboriously remove support structures. However, you will be rewarded with an extremely precise result. As with most SLA printers, the print area is restricted: The object can have a maximum size of 14 times 18 times 14 centimeters and a volume of 3.9 liters, with the synthetic resin only small projects can be implemented – professional s can let their creativity play.

The equipment of the Formlabs Form 3 is basically okay. You can connect the 3D printer to the PC via USB cable and use WLAN or network cables. There is no reader for SD cards. Everything is included in the scope of delivery to clean and harden the printed object. There is also a large selection of materials that can be used, but without professional knowledge you are dependent on Formlabs' own brand – and that is expensive. The running costs of printing with synthetic resin are generally high. The control of the device works well, also directly on the device via touch display. Formlabs relies on proprietary, non-open source slicer software. The printing table can be calibrated automatically, but printing with SLA generally takes quite a long time.

If you mainly look at the print quality of particularly fine structures, you cannot avoid SLA . The Formlabs Form 3 as the test winner in this area is expensive: around 3. 900 Euro.

With the Formlabs Form 3 SLA printer, even fine structures work extremely well. Picture: Formlabs

Best seller: Prusa Research Original Prusa i3 MK3S

  • Source: Prusa Research

    Prusa Research Original Prusa i3 MK3S

    Overall grade: very good (1.4) The popular 3D printer Original Prusa i3 MK3S offers very good print quality and is constantly being developed.

Benefits
Very good print quality
Strong ergonomics
Low operating costs
Disadvantage
No WLAN or LAN interfaces
USB sticks are not supported
Limited printing area

The Prusa Research Original Prusa i3 MK3S is the classic among 3D printers for the home and is still one of the best-selling and most used devices. The FDM printer emerged from the RepRap inventor project and is constantly being developed. You can buy it completely or as a kit to assemble. The plastic components can even be printed with any 3D printer – the idea of ​​auto replication. The print quality of the Prusa is very good and errors hardly occurred in the test objects. You have great freedom in the choice of materials: 15 Different filament types are supported. The pressure range of the open device is however moderate 21 times 25 times 21 centimeters and 11 liters of print material limited.

Also thanks to the community's support the original Prusa i3 MK3S with some practical functions: for example, the filament is loaded automatically when it is inserted and the printing stops automatically when the extruder jams. Automatic printing table calibration is available. WLAN and network cable connection have been dispensed with, however, data can be loaded via USB or SD card. Control via touch display is possible, the slicer software is of course open source. We find the general processing of the inventor printer good. Prusa offers a wide range of its own filament types, including variants with carbon reinforcement, wood fiber or metal powder. You do not have to use this, with generic PLA or ABS the running costs are low.

Den Original Prusa i3 MK3S you get as a complete device for around 1. 000 Euro. The kit for assembling is already available from 800 Euro. And if you have access to another 3D printer, you can use the open-source designs to print the plastic components yourself and only buy the electronics. Older models can also be upgraded in this way.

The Original Prusa i3 MK3S is one of the most popular 3D printers in the world. Picture: Prusa

How much do I have to spend on a good 3D printer?

The market for 3D printers is now quite large and in the upper price ranges the transition from home user devices to commercial models is fluid. The most expensive 3D printer we had in the test costs over 6. 000 Euro – but it is also the best quality. The wide field of 3D printers for home can be found in area 2. 000 to 4.000 Euro. This applies to both FDM and SLA models, whereby the operating costs differ considerably. Since printer technology is always cheaper, you can now get good devices for hobby projects at a comparatively low price of 500 to 1. 500 euros, including some of the best-selling models. In the area under 500 You will find entry-level devices that mostly provide solid printing results, but we have not found any real defects in our tests. However, savings are often made in terms of equipment and ergonomics.

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3D printers tested: how were the products rated?

We test all 3D printers in the CHIP test center . We rely on a test database programmed for us, it stores every recorded detail of the devices. With 3D printing, the print result is relevant. We print a set of standard objects that pose a challenge for the devices. For example, we are interested in whether the 3D printer models larger flat surfaces without deformations or whether the specified dimensions are adhered to in the test cube. Filigree details are examined and evaluated as well as smooth surfaces, smooth curves and sharp edges. The print quality makes 60 percent of the overall grade.

In the area We test ergonomics to determine whether all relevant points are within easy reach, whether the supplied software and firmware for the printer support the user and whether a PC is absolutely necessary for operation, or whether jobs can also be read from a USB stick or memory card. There are other points for helpful ads. In the equipment evaluation, we reward connections and interfaces as well as the expandability of the device and its components, for example by a milling unit. Finally, let's take a look at the costs, because material and energy costs are added to the purchase price of the 3D printer – the “total cost of ownership” (TCO).

For each 3D printer tested, the database recalculates the results for all other models in the leaderboard. If a newly tested product sets the best value in a rating category, it receives a grade of 1.0 and all other models are devalued accordingly.

The print quality fluctuates between the 3D printer models. Image: vgajic / Getty Images

Click here for the CHIP test center

What is a 3D printer and what printing techniques are there?

3D printing enables the production of three-dimensional objects without a mold. For this purpose, the selected liquid or solid material is applied in layers under computer control so that the desired object is gradually created. The materials used now cover a wide field: 3D printers for home use use plastics or synthetic resins, but in the industrial sector, metal, alloys and ceramics are also used for printing. Originally, this was mainly used for the rapid production of prototypes, but now special components are also produced with 3D printers if mass production is not worthwhile. 3D printing to order is a large area of ​​business.

Various 3D printing methods that work with different materials have been developed since the 1980s. The starting shot was given by stereolithography (SLA), which is still used in many 3D printers today. The object is made of light-curing plastic, especially liquid synthetic resins. A laser hardens the desired surfaces layer by layer. This method enables a very precise printing of even fine structures. In some cases, however, support structures are necessary, which must then be removed. After printing, the item must be cleaned and irradiated with UV light. Modified methods use the projection technology DLP (DLP-SLA) or LEDs with an LCD mask (Masked SLA, MSLA) instead of the laser.

Much cheaper and therefore with 3D Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is a widely used printer for home use. As this is a registered trademark of the Stratasys company, the name Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) was introduced as an alternative. In the technique, molten plastic is discharged from the extruder, the three-dimensional object is built up from layers that fuse together and hardened by cooling. Two thirds of 3D printing worldwide is done with this method. Instead of plastic, molten metal can also be used, but devices for this have so far only been available in the commercial sector. There are other methods of 3D printing such as laser beam melting, laser sintering or 3D screen printing in use.

In the professional field, 3D printing is used for prototypes and components in small quantities. Image: Zyabich / Getty Images

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What should I look out for when buying a 3D printer?

  • Printing technology & purpose

    You can do a lot with the 3D printer, from the keychain to the Pen holders to figures and spare parts. However, if you are planning particularly delicate creations, you have to think about the printing technology. Although both FDM and SLA printers achieve high print quality, stereolithography is better able to cope with fine structures and details. However, working with SLA devices requires more effort, both when post-processing the printed objects and when cleaning and maintaining the printer itself. The extra charge for an SLA printer must be worth it. FDM printers are cheaper, require less cleaning, and print simpler forms easily. However, more complex creations are not always successful.

  • Print material

    There are a number of them for use in FDM printers of thermoplastics, i.e. heat-deformable plastics. They differ in melting point, adhesion and toughness. Therefore, you cannot use all materials in all devices. The standard are polyactide (PLA) and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) in different colors, these are compatible with almost all 3D printers of this type – and you do not rely on the device manufacturer's own brand. Read in the manufacturer's instructions whether you can use other thermoplastics such as nylon or carbon-reinforced filament. SLA printers work with photopolymers, i.e. liquid synthetic resins. The right grade is determined by the light wavelength at which the resin hardens. As a rule, you have to resort to the device manufacturer's own brand. The synthetic resin is also generally expensive.

  • Print dimensions & print volume

    The printing area is limited, for 3D printers with SLA technology more than with FDM devices. With stereolithography, the resin is placed in the container before the printing process, which has limits: For large models, the printing volume can be up to 4 liters, for compact devices often only 2 liters. The objects cannot be too big, the width and depth are around 15 centimeters, the height is significantly below 20 centimeters. There is more space on the pressure plate of the FDM devices, even compact models offer 20 centimeters of space in all directions. With the large variants, you can easily create objects with a width and depth of 30 times 30 centimeters, only the print height is usually up 20 centimeters limited. Since the FDM printer obtains the filament from a spool, the print volume for smaller devices is around 8 to 10 liters, for large models even over 20 liters of plastic can be processed. But that takes a correspondingly long time.

  • Speed ​​& Dual Extruder

    Despite all technical developments, 3D printing is needed his time. Fast home user devices print a test cube with an edge length of two centimeters, i.e. the simplest object shape, in just under 25 minutes. On average, it takes twice as long. SLA printers generally take longer, here it can take an hour and a half for the test cube to be printed, after which the object must also be cleaned and irradiated with UV light to harden it. A fixation on speed is not useful anyway, because the speed increases the susceptibility to errors, after all, the layers have to merge cleanly. Working with the 3D printer must always be well planned. It is interesting if the model has two extruders. While that doesn't make it faster, you can use two types of paper at the same time. This allows you to print the object in two colors or you fill the second extruder with water-soluble material for the support structures.

  • Software & Data Transfer

    The object to be printed must be created and saved in a 3D design program. The file is then processed by so-called “slicer” software so that the 3D printer can read it. Most manufacturers rely on free open Source solutions, that is, the community can further develop the open source programs. However, proprietary software is also used occasionally. If you are not working with several 3D printers at the same time, both solutions are ok, but the open source software offers more control. Data can be transferred in several ways, a direct connection to the PC via USB cable is almost always possible. There are differences in network connectivity, for example some 3D printers have WLAN and network cable connection. Other devices can also read the data from an SD card. It is practical if the printing process can not only be started via the PC, but also directly on the device.

  • Furnishing

    When printing with liquid plastic, the temperature must be right, this is important for the lower layers, because they determine whether the printing process is successful. The majority of 3D printers with FDM technology therefore have a heated print bed. If this is missing, which is occasionally the case with cheap models, only PLA plastic can be used for printing. You should pay attention to this. SLA printers work technically different, a heated printing plate is not necessary there. With FDM printers, the printing table must be calibrated before printing, i.e. the ideal distance between the printing bed and the printing nozzle must be set. This can be done manually, but an automatic table calibration function is much more convenient. This is the standard for more expensive devices, but occasionally the function is missing. The ability of the 3D printer to make predictions about the printing time and the required printing material is helpful. But this is now the case with almost all models.

  • Weight size

    The dimensions of the device depend depending on the construction. The more expensive 3D printers are often built in the form of a box. This is the case with SLA devices anyway, because printing must take place under a cover protected from UV light. With FDM printers, the box design has the advantage that the thermoplastic coils are securely housed in the housing. Compact devices can only measure 40 times 40 times 40 centimeters, but most models are larger. Cheaper devices work with an open pressure plate, a frame for the extruder and the material spool at the top of the device. Therefore, these 3D printers have a small base, round 50 times 50 centimeters, but are up to 80 centimeters high. The most massive models among 3D printers bring over 20 Kilograms on the scales, compact versions weigh half. However, even when positioning compact 3D printers, you must always ensure that they can be well ventilated.

The plastic printing material for 3D printing is available in different colors. Image: Grafner / Getty Images

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What safety precautions do I have to take when 3D printing?

3D printing with plastic releases vapors. The liquefaction of thermoplastics produces fine dust and volatile organic compounds. The emissions are higher with ABS than with PLA. The amounts released are not specifically harmful to health and, according to studies, are below the limit values. You should still ensure good ventilation when printing with FDM devices and set up the 3D printer in an adjoining room. However, a mouthguard is not necessary.

The situation is somewhat different with SLA printers: the synthetic resins used should not get on the skin, they are partially caustic and cause rashes. In addition, the printed objects are cleaned in alcohol or solvents. So you have to wear gloves at work. Since, in addition, similar vapors are produced during printing as with the plastic materials, a mouth guard is also recommended. The finished 3D printed objects are harmless to health.

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How do I clean and maintain the 3D printer?

3D printing is an exact matter, soiling can quickly disrupt and lead to the failure of the printing project. With FDM printers, the heated print bed ensures that the lower plastic layers do not stick. If the print bed is unheated, which is the case with some cheaper or older models, residues may remain which you must remove. But in general you should also regularly clean the surface, it works very easily with detergent, but cleaning alcohol is more thorough. Moving parts also have to be cleaned from time to time: clean axes ensure that the pressure nozzle can move easily, and dust-free ventilation ensures efficiency. Nozzles clogged with filament are cleaned with a needle or wire, which is usually included. Always observe the information provided by the 3D printer manufacturer.

For SLA printers, more work is required for technical reasons. The print bed is a tub into which the synthetic resin is filled before starting. After printing, you can put the unused resin back into the container, but you have to clean the tub. The printed object is placed in alcohol for cleaning and then cured with UV light. You must also clean the tubes used. In addition, you must wear latex gloves and ideally a face mask. At some point there is routine here, but it is more work. Even with SLA printers, you should clean the print nozzle and other moving parts from time to time.

Dirt can interfere with 3D printing, so surfaces must always be clean. Image: Alexander Traksel / Getty Images

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With increasing interest in the technology, enthusiasts developed the idea of ​​the self-replicable 3D printer. The RepRap project (Replicating Rapid-prototyper) wants to achieve that 100 percent of the components of the 3D printer can be made by 3D printing. So far, this has only been possible for the plastic components of the devices; screws and electronics are also required. Open source technology is constantly being developed. The RepRap project resulted in several 3D printers that are now commercially sold, most notably the Prusa i3. Its design and further development remains open source and all plastic components of the FDM device can be copied with 3D printers. Manufacturer Prusa Research sells complete devices, but also offers the non-printable components separately for hobbyists.

3D -Printer in the test

Ultimaker  S5 BestCheck offer

  • Facilities (1.0)
  • Print quality (1.2)
  • Ergonomics (1,2)
  • Printing costs (2.5)

BCN3D Sigmax R19 BestCheck offer

  • Facilities (1.5)
  • Print quality (1.2)
  • Ergonomics (1.3)
  • Printing costs (1.9)

Ultimaker S3 Offer from BestCheck

  • Facilities (1.5)
  • Print quality (1.2)
  • Ergonomics (1.1)
  • Printing costs (2.3)

Prusa Research Original Prusa i3 MK3S Offered by BestCheck

  • Facilities (2.7)
  • Print quality (1.2)
  • Ergonomics (1,2)
  • Printing costs (1.3)

Ultimaker 3 BestCheck offer

  • Facilities (1.6)
  • Print quality (1.2)
  • Ergonomics (1.4)
  • Printing costs (2.3)

To the complete leaderboard

The most important questions about 3D printers at a glance

Which 3D -Printer is the best?

The best 3D printer in the test is the one Ultimaker S5. For the semi-professional device you pay over 6. 000 Euro. The original Prusa i3 MK3S is much cheaper. You get the popular 3D printer for around 1. 000 Euro. The price tip Anycubic I3 Mega even only costs 240 Euro.

Which 3D printer is suitable for beginners?

3D printing does not always work right away, but many devices have a sufficiently simple handling with who can also cope with beginners. FDM printers require less effort than SLA printers. A good entry-level 3D printer is the inexpensive Anycubic I3 Mega.

With which materials can the 3D printer print?

FDM printers work with solid plastic materials that are liquefied during 3D printing. The most common are PLA and ABS, other types such as HIPS or nylon are possible. SLA printers use liquid synthetic resin. Commercial printing is also done with metals and alloys.

Can you print a 3D printer with a 3D printer?

The RepRap project deals with the concept of the “self-replicable 3D printer”. It is not a problem to make the plastic components of the printer with 3D printing. However, screws and electronics still need to be added. You can buy 3D printer kits.

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